Let me begin by introducing myself. I’m a 50 something male, who until three years ago was in pretty good health. I could do what I wanted when I wanted with little or no problems.
I enjoyed fishing, camping, canoeing, photography, working on my house, my cars, getting out to visit friends, and generally enjoying life. Three years ago I started having problems with motor coordination, all over body pain, and generally a lack of “feeling right.” I was employed at the time, and had insurance through my employer. I did what any American with insurance would do, I went and saw my doctor.
It was outside his bailiwick, and he referred me to a neurologist. After multiple tests (MRIs, EMGs, EEGs, mental and psych evaluations, blood sugar, vitamin deficiencies, etc.) I was informed on December 7, 2009 that I had idiopathic demyelinating peripheral polyneuropathy. Whoa, that’s a mouthful.
Since I had been taking time off from work to get all these tests done, I thought it only right to inform my employer. That is when the problems really started. My direct supervisor’s comment to me after telling him of my condition was, “That’s too bad. Sorry to hear that.” Little did I realize the foreshadowing the comment held. On January 4, 2010 the head of human resources showed up and informed me that my services were no longer needed. Less than 30 days after being honest about what was going on I was given a month’s severance and sent packing. They say honesty is the best policy, but that event leaves me wondering.
That left me sick, unemployed and with no insurance. I know some people will say, “You could have signed up for COBRA,” but who honestly can afford $700 p/month for COBRA when they just lost their job? I started doing what any middle aged guy with a college degree would do, up dated my resume, posted it on Monster and Career Builder and started sending out letters.
I’d get a bite here and there, mostly for entry level stuff, and nothing paying what I had been making. The problem would come when I would actually talk to prospects, and they would see that I was “wobbly” when I walked. Kinda looked like a sailor on shore leave after hitting a dozen tiki bars. It usually went something like this, “You have a lot of qualifications, but I don’t see you as fitting in. We’re a very fast pace organization, and need the best we can find.”
Six months went by, and my condition worsened. I started having increased problems with controlling my legs and started falling over or down if I didn’t have something to brace myself, so I started using a cane to keep from doing a face plant. The original doctor told me that my condition wasn’t going to kill me, but I would die with it. Now I was beginning to wonder. If my medical condition wasn’t going to kill me, falling into something would. On the advise of a close friend I applied for and received “insurance” through the local public hospital.
However, to get an appointment was another problem. They were booked six months out for new patients, and I was not in any condition to wait six more months before I got some kind of help. The pain in my legs, arms, back, face and well generally all over was becoming unbearable. There were days, weeks where it felt like my body was on fire, or I had some kind of mutant bugs crawling all over me. I finally found a free health clinic (free to the extent that they only charged $6 per visit) to see me. Their solution was Gabapentin, but only if they had it in. They were on such a tight budget that they took donated medicine from doctor’s offices, and used these for their patients. If they were out of something, then so were you.
I finally did get an appointment with one of the hospital’s community clinics, but it would not be until January 2011.